They might not be well known, but the IAF’s Cargo Squadron is one of the most important units in the IAF’s Tactical Transport Division. They join every sortie, big and small and know the cargo hold like the back of their hand. New loadmasters join the IAF
It is almost impossible to write about tactical transport without referring to the labor of cargo transportation. While the pilots are busy flying the aircraft, the loadmasters are responsible for mission management. From concentration of the equipment and flying it to the front, parachuting equipment or fixing in-flight malfunctions in the cargo hold – all these are the responsibility of the loadmasters. They must be familiar with all of the possible scenarios in order to make correct decisions and perform their missions. “We are responsible for performing the missions the aircraft takes off for”, explained Capt. G’, Commander of the IAF Loadmaster Academy.
A Big Family
Upon acceptance to the unit, which is volunteer based, the former flight school cadets begin their six-month long training. “The unit is small and is made up of a few dozen servicemen and women: loadmasters, drivers and flight operation officials”, shared Lt. Col. Omer, the Unit Commander.
Despite the length and difficulty of the course, it is very small and intimate. Throughout the course, the cadets undergo dozens of sorties in simulators and in the air, a parachuting course, a navigation week, five survival and evasion exercises, a camouflage exercise, a helicopter rendezvous exercise, hypobaric chamber training, aquatic survival training, ship boarding training and more. Only after completing the challenging course, the young loadmasters begin their two month-long Operational Training Course.
Responsibility and Humility
A loadmaster must be able to withstand great amounts of pressure, have a sharp mind and mostly have the ability to deal with the nature of the role. “It’s a job with a lot of responsibility”, said Lt. Col. Omer. “The loadmasters are in the cargo hold alone and have to make decisions by themselves”.
In 2016, the unit opened the previously closed option for servicewomen to join the ranks of the IAF’s loadmasters. “A few years ago, a former female flight course cadet came to us and expressed an interest in the unit”, shared Lt. Col. Omer. “We wanted her to join us, but we quickly understood that we don’t have the necessary permits”. The process of receiving said permits took almost two and a half years and now the unit is waiting for its first female loadmaster.
Day and Night
Following the graduation ceremony, the cadets performed a training exercise in which they were required to quickly unload equipment from a moving Hercules C-130 as they will need to do in emergency situations. From now on, the new loadmaster will participate in operational missions and training exercises in the day and night and plan for every possible scenario.